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Why You Should Watch “Queens of Drama”

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.51.45 AMI admit it. I’ve been a bit of a hypocrite. I’ve sneakily watched reality TV while refusing to admit how much I’ve enjoyed it. To be fair, reality TV is often akin to eating fast food. Although you know you shouldn’t, it’s just sooo delicious. Especially when you’re feeling low.

I was fully prepared for “Queens of Drama” to be another one of those shows full of typical attempts to keep my eyeballs glued to the TV.  You know, women throwing wine glasses, saying outrageous things, flashing some skin. And it’s not without it’s shock factor moments. But there is something else going on that is holding my attention. Something I didn’t count on.

Women trying to work together.

There is not much “sisterhood” in show business, and that’s a fact. There is so much gossiping and back stabbing that frankly I’ve been very careful about who I let close. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced some great and true female friendships that grew from working relationships. I’ve also really tried to let certain women I’ve worked with know that I “get” what they are going through, even if we don’t have the connection to be close friends, and that I care.

But just as often I’ve experienced women ready to upstage me, step on my lines, or try and piggyback on anything positive that might happen to me. Yes, there have been moments where I had to tell a woman before the Emmys, “DO NOT HUG ME IF I WIN.”

So in “Queens of Drama” I am actually seeing elements of what I have experienced in my own life. And it’s sort of jaw dropping.

I’ve also found that stepping out of the role of “actor” into the role of “person in charge” as director, writer and/or producer can be a challenging one. Every move you make can be questioned by your team, not to mention the people looking at your material. But these women are trying to create a piece of work without any one of them being the leader.

They are trying in what could be considered a uniquely feminine way to work together.

Here’s a quote the creator Adam Reed from a recent article in the NY Observer:

“What’s great about this show is there is as much camaraderie as there is conflict and the women, although they may argue, have a real affinity and respect for each other. I think a lot of unscripted shows you have a bunch of women yelling and just being catty towards each other. What’s great about this is these women have come together for a common goal, not just for parties and dinners and that kind of stuff. That common goal is to serve an underserved market and create a television show that’s produced and stars these actresses and I think that’s refreshing.”

As most of you know, I have a very fond affection for soaps and serial television, so I am looking forward to seeing these women persevere. Stories that serve women are stories that can help the whole community. I hope they overcome the endless stumbling blocks for women in show biz and make a great fictional TV show that is fun to watch but also helps our society.

Even if they don’t, it’s going to be fascinating to watch them try.

 Queens of Drama airs Wednesdays at 8p on POP TV.

 

 

 

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Meet Albert Fuh

I am very excited that my second short film has been accepted into the SOHO International Film Fest in NYC. It plays May 16th at 1:40PM at the Cinema East Village at 2nd Ave and 12th Street, should you happen to be in town! It plays in a block of a bunch of other shorts called Program C: the Prince Street Series. As these things usually go it’s a very interesting afternoon!

Here is a link to the trailer, which I hope intrigues you enough to come see the longer version! I tried to create the world of an individual who struggles with connecting with other people, so he uses his creativity to “bridge the gap”!

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The Business of the Business

I was approached by a good friend (Matthew Rozsa, Google him) who works in the media to turn a personal FB post into an article for one of the sites he works for, “The Good Men Project.” It was a bit of a surprise as I wasn’t planning on going public with my feelings. However because I have a lot of respect for my friend’s opinion, I went ahead with the idea.

Writing about the topic I was dealing with was very difficult. I was afraid it would piss people off: both the people I work for and the people I really enjoy connecting with online.

The topic was self-objectification for profit.

When I was a kid, (in the 1970’s) I remember actors or other public figures would sometimes pose in Playboy or Playgirl in order to get attention. And it sometimes worked. They’d get a movie deal or attention that boosted a lagging career.

But these days because of the internet, just about anyone can get a little bubble of attention by showing some skin. The Kardashian kids are making a huge living off of acting up sexually in front of the camera. Reality shows are digging into the worst parts of folks lives and rewarding them with huge financial gains. (Note: I’ve heard that the women of a certain huge reality show franchise are making close to a million dollars for one season.  That’s a million dollars for thirteen weeks of work. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.)

However when I was approached by a certain reality show last year I turned it down. Why? I guess I’m an idiot. But I didn’t want a Hollywood production walking into my life and rewriting it for entertainment.

You see, I know people who work behind the scenes on reality TV. They’ve told me almost everything that happens on camera is “soft scripted.” There’s very little that contains actual reactions. Later every word, every reaction is manipulated in editing to look like what the producers will think will fit with the story they want to tell and be the most sensational. There is nothing real about reality TV.

Why does it work? I think it works because it portrays what we want to believe, not the truth. Sometimes we want to believe bosses really care. Sometimes we want to believe rich people are really unhappy. Sometimes we want to believe that love is a game that can be won if we only play it right.

In the last few weeks I’ve been going through a rough time. I gotta admit that. I’ve been wondering if my decision making has been flawed. I’ve been thinking that I should’ve said yes to that reality show, that I should’ve lived at the gym so my body would be rock solid on camera, and that I should’ve gotten a publicist. I should’ve taken tons more selfies, attended more Hollywood events…. and on and on. I should’ve played the game that is currently being rewarded.

But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.

My book was what I felt I had to give. Inside those pages lives every raw, wounded, broken, fragile, strong, HUMAN part of me. I simply couldn’t get more “real” than within the pages of that book. To have to get all made up for a “reality” show that could choose to portray me in any way they wanted, to become a living Barbie for others to throw off a cliff… it was just one step too far for me.

On the other hand, I joke that I am “professional Barbie.” I get made up, put on clothes, and go to work to create the scenes that the writers have crafted. I take pride in being able to make sometimes over the top “soap” scenarios come to life.  In the past, my skill was enough to keep me employed. But these days I am told that my Twitter and FB numbers are where the producers and television executives are looking for proof of value.

How do you get those numbers up if you aren’t already on TV every day?

The Kardashian kids know it. You make your life in the media and online into a sensationalistic “reality” show. Peek-a-boo photos of your bum, insider gossip, and relationship dramas seem to get more attention than an all nude production of “Cinderella on Ice.”

So here and there I have given in. I’ve posted the bikini selfie. I’ve even taken some sexy shots that I later deleted thinking, “That’s for Jon, not the world.” Then I wondered, “would I be more valued by my job if I had posted them? Would I be more valued if I had taken the reality show?”

So when my friend said, “write an article about it” I felt like it was really important to do so. Important for me to say, “Hey, why is this happening? Is it just me or is this pressure felt by a lot of people? Are we right to have to turn ourselves into objects? Products to be sold? What happened to the value of the skills we may have spent a lifetime developing?”

So I said it. And 4536 FB shares later, I’m beginning to feel like I am not the only one who feels this way.

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Soap Satire = Comic Genius

I have always thought that a soap could make for a great comic book, but just never saw the right recipe until this fine fellow put it all together. On Twitter this #YR super fan goes by @YRScreenshot and he turns scenes from the show into actual comic book pages.

He calls them “a satirical photo critique” and I think they are hilarious. Whether it’s a poster of your favorite character, or a scrapbook of that actors publicity, some kind of two-dimensional reflection is a fun way to embrace the experience of watching your favorite show.

(Note: I had NOTHING to do with the making of these, other than of course, being an actor on The Young and The Restless! Oh, and if you don’t get the joke about Phyllis’ head, you’re just going to have to go look at his instagram page to figure it out! Make sure to look for the “Kelly/Jack” video!)

I want MORE!!!! Thanks @YRScreenshot!

YR Screenshot

 

YR Screenshot #1

YR Screenshot #3

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Fun at the Festival

Jon and Cady at the LA Indie Film FestI had such a fun time at the LA Indie Film Festival. So many wonderful pals showed up to support my work, and the audience (made up of not only my friends, but total strangers, too) laughed all through the film! What a delight!

Best of all, my wonderful husband was there to cheer me on and support the work. What a great guy!

I also got to meet this fantastic interviewer, who did a terrific in-depth interview with me after the screening.

 

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Accepted to the LA Indie Film Fest!

LA INDIE Laurel-1I am so thrilled to share with you that my second short film has been accepted into a highly respected festival in Hollywood, the LA Indie Film Fest.

If you are in the LA area and would like to join me at the screening, here is a link that will take you to the website where you can buy tickets.  The screening will be within a block of other short films, and there will be a Q&A with the attending filmmakers afterwords.

Date: Saturday, March 7th, 2015 (this is a correction!)

Time: 4:30PM

Place: The Actors Company, 916 N. Formosa Hollywood, CA 90046

Tickets: LA Indie Film Fest

Thank you for all of your support!

 

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Standing Out

Ever feel like a fish out of water? A stranger in a strange land? Ever feel like it’s obvious the emperor has no clothes and wonder why the heck NOBODY is SAYING anything about it?

Welcome to my world.

The good news is, you are not alone.

The bad news is, I bet you are afraid to say what you see/to be yourself/to stand out. I know how you feel and I am not telling you that it’s wrong to be afraid. There are a lot of bullies, fear mongers, “trolls,” and well-meaning critics who can be pretty darn scary both on the internet and in life. People who like to make fun of those whom they see as “different.” Why? Because controlling others through shame makes them feel good. Their hurtful words are often said with the best of intentions, but deep down they really want you to do one thing: SIT DOWN and SHUT UP.

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For example: the phrase “hipster” is meant to mock an entire generation of young people who are seeking to express themselves in their own unique way. “Hipsters,” is a phrase MEANT to be dismissive. I know, I know… it doesn’t seem that hurtful but if you’ve ever heard this phrase while wearing a fedora or showing off your sleeve tattoo, it’s possible that you knew they were in part talking about you, and you felt a little SHAMED.

What to do, what to do.

Trust me, I have tried in my life to accommodate those who wanted me to be less than myself simply so that they could be more comfortable around me (relatives/so-called friends/teachers/neighbors/bosses/colleagues…) I’ve tried to adjust to what “they” said I “should” do about my hair/weight/face/clothes/career/art/dreams/goals/desires/taste/FEELINGS… but it just made me one thing:  MISERABLE.

I’ve even tried various ways of being self-destructive in order to numb the pain/the voice/the desire in me to meet life with all the creative gusto I have in me, but it didn’t work. The ONLY thing that has helped me move forward/feel comfortable/be HAPPY in my life, is to simply BE DIFFERENT ANYWAY.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.43.30 AMIt boils down to choice. Do I want to be happy and follow my own path, no matter if it’s flawed/choppy/awkward/obscene to others? Or do I want to accommodate those who would critique me?

Do I have the courage to STAND OUT or would I rather be INVISIBLE?

It seems like a choice…right? But here’s the thing. Trying to be invisible HURTS. It physically/emotionally/spiritually HURTS. Wearing the clothes that no one will comment on (or that are guaranteed “approved by society,”) doing the job that “everyone” thinks is acceptable, saying the same things your friends do just to fit in… all causes PAIN… deep down in your soul.

So what do you do with that pain?

You numb it, right? Food/shopping/prescription meds/money/sex/drugs/gossip/over-exercizing/TV/work …are all ways we use to numb the pain… and the list goes on and on. And these distractions from pain can become so all-consuming that you don’t even realize that you are still in pain.Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.56.22 AM

I don’t want to live that way.

So there is no choice. I’m just a weirdo, and that’s that. I have to accept that people will say mean things to me on the internet, not understand or support why I want to do something… mud will continue to be flung. I simple have to continue to just do my work: the job of being true to myself.

This blog is not meant to be an exercise in emotional self-masterbation. It’s also about YOU. I hope today you will be BRAVE and do a little something today that feels AUTHENTIC and TRUTHFUL for YOU. Because I deeply believe that what YOU have to say, who YOU are is a gift to the world.

Buy Barbie head shoes. Get a ticket to a magic show. Take that little project out of the bottom desk drawer and put a gold star and glitter all over it.  And if you want, tell me about it. I like to hear about other people fighting for their unique way of living in this world.

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Art, Life… and Mom

I firmly believe in “cleaning out one’s closets” both internally and externally. That said, I can’t seem to ever get mine clean ENOUGH. Argh. I’m constantly finding “treasures” that I simply can’t part with… that is, until I force myself to “get real” about what I really “need” (which is generally not so much crap!)

While on a storage unit purge recently, I found a letter from one of my distant relatives, a cousin of my mom’s, written to her. She told my mom what an impressive “creative” she was, detailing how she was talented in drawing, painting, writing, etc. This relative was also an artist in her own right, a collage artist, so I was struck by what a lovely, encouraging compliment this was.

I was also struck by the awareness that I, too, am a multi-tasking creative. I write books and music; write, direct and produce films; make my own collages; and of course, act. I am better at some of these arts than others. Trust me, more than once in my life have I thought, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” But I try to ignore that voice and putter about in whatever art seems to be calling to me at the time. Now I try and focus on the fact that my mom passed on this gift, and that I should treasure it and be grateful.

In the last year of my mom’s life she gave me another gift: a copy of the book “The Artist’s Way.” If you read my book, “Murdering My Youth,” you know my mom had some issues (to put it lightly), but this book made a huge difference for her. I would’ve loved to have seen how it changed her life even more, but sadly her time on earth ran out. Still, I was so grateful for the changes this book made in her that I picked it up myself. Wanting to stay connected to the best in her, I went through the lessons in “The Artist’s Way” not once, not twice, but three times. I still go back to it again and again for reminders of how to negotiate treacherous creative waters; how to re-inspire myself; and how to create a life where I felt safe to create. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

My belief after years of making art of all kinds, is that all arts come from a similar place within us, and all arts are meant to connect us, to make us think as human beings about our experience here on earth. This is why I continue to work, because I love that feeling of taking something from within my imagination or experience and feeling that connection.

My latest short film is all about connection: the loss of it, the fear of it, the desire for it. I don’t know if I have ever worked so hard as I did directing and producing this latest project. Films are not only expensive to produce, but time and labor intensive. They are also a collaboration amongst artists in all kinds of arenas: from the color correction to working with actors, it’s always an experience of talents mingling.

I suppose you could say each project I do is like me taking a bunch of stuff out of my closet, putting it together in a way that tickles me, and then sharing it. First with the other artists I work with, and then with the audience.

 

It means a lot to me that the artists who accept my invitation to work together have a good experience. I think I can say without reservation that I’ve found a truly amazing and talented crew. But it also means a lot to me that the audience keeps coming back to me to hear what I’ve discovered, to see how I’ve put together something that quite possibly is not just a private moment for me revealed, but a universal experience we all share, and perhaps feel a little embarrassed about.

So thank you for watching my work, and connecting with me. Thank you for joining me on this journey of creative discovery. It means the world and I am so grateful.

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Better Choices + Time = New Life

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.00.44 PMOne question I have been asked often recently is this:

“After years of childhood misery and years of unhappy, unsuccessful adult relationships, how did you manage to change it all and ALSO find a great guy?”

Basically they are asking me, “How did you get happy?”

The simple answer is: I realized I was the common factor in my unhappiness, and changed my choices.

Here I refer to three bits of wisdom a therapist once gave me.  (Did I mention he’s Italian?)

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PITHY ADVICE FROM THERAPIST #1

He said something like this:

“You walk into a bar. You see a person at the bar you’re really attracted to. S/he’s got that “spark” that all the other people you once loved (and went through hell with) also had. Walk over to where s/he is sitting, TURN AROUND, AND TALK TO THE PERSON STANDING NEXT TO THEM.”

I never forgot the simplicity of this advice. The message is: what is familiar may be a “draw” for you. “Spark” may resonate with all the hope of finally fixing your love life, or maybe even your childhood, but when you go down that path… you usually get drama. Despair. Frustration… and end up back on the usual emotional merry-go-round. What to do?

TURN AROUND AND TALK TO SOMEONE YOU WOULDN’T CHOOSE.

Yeah, yeah, I know…

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But look. If you are like I was, your “picker” is broken. You simply have to look around at all the people you are not currently picking.

So be brave! Say hi to someone you might not have.  You never know where it could take you. Honestly, it’s how I met the love of my life.

Speaking of which…

PITHY AND REMARKABLY USEFUL TID-BIT FROM THERAPIST #2

…went something like this:

“Take a pencil and a piece of paper. Draw a simple circle. Make a point in the middle of the circle. Now draw a line from the point in the center of the circle to any point on the outside of the circle. (This is a lot easier than I am making it sound.) Now draw a second line from the center point maybe 3 degrees from the first line.

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If you kept on drawing those lines further and further out, they’d end up really far apart from each other.

Line ONE is the path you are on.

Line TWO is where the new choice takes you. Just 3 degrees of change can make you end up far away then where you were headed.”

BETTER CHOICES + TIME = NEW LIFE.

BTW SARK has many suggestions as to how to make what she called MICRO MOVEMENTS fun. (I love SARK.)

PITHY AND SURPRISINGLY USEFUL ADVICE FROM SHRINK #3

“Here’s your homework. Go home and WATCH JUDGE JUDY.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 12.41.57 PMSeriously… my therapist told me to watch Judge Judy. When I did, I realized that I was being really “wishy-washy” in my life, giving some people FAR too much credit, and definitely not standing up for myself. I needed a New York Overhaul and JJ was just the lady to help me out. I can’t say it worked overnight, so if you are shy, like I used to be, repeated viewing is highly suggested.

Finally, in order to accomplish any goal, all you really need is one attribute. I think this ONE THING is what separates those who change their lives from those who never do.

WILLINGNESS. If you are willing to change, or can cultivate the willingness to change, then you can change your life. I admit, sometimes I know what I have to do in order to change, I’m just not willing to do it. But at least I am 100% clear that I am choosing to NOT be willing. The willingness to change sometimes comes slowly and is usually accompanied by great pain, and pain… well, pain sucks. But enough of it sure can make you willing to change.

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To Blog or Not to Blog, That is The Question

manoverlake

I am overwhelmed.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, e-mail, messages, and texts are an endless part of my everyday life now. Then there are the “apps” that are supposed to help me maximize every moment in my life: I get news blasts from Stitcher, alerts from Huffington Post, reminders from The New York Times, and updates from Tumblr. And let us not forget online shopping. I can spend hours drooling over sales on handbags, jewelry, makeup, and images of the latest and least affordable “haute couture.”

I feel bombarded by all this information, useful or no, a slave to the communication culture that consists of everyone shouting at the top of their lungs “LISTEN TO ME” and mostly saying nothing at all. Sometimes I don’t want to add one more note to this cacophony of noise-less verbiage, not unless I have something I really, NEED to say.

So here goes:

Make your life worth living starting NOW. Turn off the TV. Step away from the computer. Stop worrying about money. Get out in nature. Take a walk. Plant a flower or a tree. Help an old person cross the street. Don’t forget to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry,” because being polite is never out of fashion. Learn to cook: it is an art form for a reason and will satisfy you more than you can imagine right now. Read ONE really good book at a time, on paper. We need less screens in our life. Make a list of five goals and hold yourself to them. Self-discipline breeds self-esteem. Write “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” on a sticky note and tape it to your mirror. Stop worrying about what other people think and find out what YOU think. Then do something about it. Take yourself to a museum, alone. If you don’t like your own company how can you expect anyone else to?  Drink more water and less soda. I promise you it will make you feel much better. Be kind to animals even if you are allergic. Go shopping in your closet. There’s great stuff hiding in there. Don’t cut your hair when you are feeling depressed or anxious. Same goes for calling your mother. Let go of “high maintenance people,” they are sucking up all your creative energy. Call one old friend just to see how they are doing. It will be the best conversation you will have all day. Make a list of ten things you love and put in on the fridge. It’s the best diet in the world. Remember that everyone suffers, everyone cries, everyone has a bad day sometimes, and everyone needs love. You are not alone. The choices you make about how to live your life make an impact on every person you meet. Think about who you want to be and then be that person. Fear is your only enemy.  Think of what you would say to a child and then say that to yourself. When in doubt, be kind. Forgive as many people as you can but don’t forget. There’s no purpose in being a doormat but no grace in being righteous. Let go or be dragged. Sing loudly, even if you can’t hold a tune and laugh at yourself as often as possible, it’s a great feeling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDmt_t6umoY

 

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